Military Review

"Jerzy" against tanks

The entire course of the Great Patriotic War clearly showed that not only sophisticated weapons systems with excellent characteristics, but also simple and cheap products can be effective. So, a small anti-tank mine can not only seriously damage, but also completely destroy the enemy tank, and a simple concrete pyramid can simply not let it into its territory. Among such simple and effective types of barriers and armaments, anti-tank hedgehogs have gained particular fame during the war years. Extremely simple and convenient in production, they greatly helped the Red Army soldiers in battles and even managed to become symbols of war.

Anti-tank hedgehogs on the outskirts of Moscow

Barriers of various types have been used in military affairs since time immemorial. Even in ancient Rome, collapsible wooden structures were used, which were installed in those areas where it was necessary to prevent the enemy from breaking through. Over time, this idea only developed, connected with other inventions, such as barbed wire, etc. However, the appearance on the battlefield tanks, which were originally created as a means of breaking through barriers, required retaliatory action to maintain defense.

At first, sawheads appeared - granite or concrete blocks, installed on tank-hazardous directions. They were quite effective in deterring the enemy, which, however, was more than offset by the complexity of manufacturing and installation. Something simpler was required. The decision appeared in June 1941. Apparently, the idea existed before that, but the outbreak of war spurred the creation of a new barrier. In the first days of the war, Major General M.L. Gorikker, being the head of the Kiev Military Technical School, receives a new appointment. He becomes the head of the Kiev garrison. The beginning of his service in the new place Gorikker "notes" a technical proposal. He claims that his invention can be made even in the most difficult conditions and it will still perform its functions.

"Jerzy" against tanks
Rows of concrete riddles, Aachen, Germany

Gorikker proposed to assemble a six-pointed construction from metal rolled, which he called an "asterisk". Theoretically, any suitable metal part could be used as a raw material for asterisks. However, from the calculations of General Gorikker, it followed that the I-beam profile is optimal. Other types of rolled products - square beams, tavr or channel - did not fit the strength. Gorikker proposed riveting with kerchiefs as a method of joining beams. In principle, when appropriate, welding was also allowed, but even here everything rested on the strength of the structure: for sufficient rigidity and strength, welded sprocket had to use larger kerchiefs, which, in turn, led to unnecessary materials costs.

The simplicity of the proposed barrier allowed it to begin testing in the first days of July. A commission arrived at the small tankodrome of the Kiev tank technical school and several stars were delivered. An interesting fact is that the stars for testing were made of rail scrap. As it later turned out, the origin of the raw materials does not affect the protective qualities of Gorikker’s inventions. T-26 and BT-5 were used as tanks trying to overcome barriers. The results of the test drives of tanks on the four-row barrier were simply remarkable. So, during his first attempt to drive through the rows of asterisks, the T-26 tank lost its oil pump hatch and damaged the oil system. A few minutes after that, all the oil in the tank flowed out and the combat vehicle could not continue its “raid”. Repair took several hours. BT-5 got off a little better: speeding up, he was able to overcome the asterisks. However, it cost him a bent bottom and a damaged transmission. It needed repair again. The very first attempts to overcome the barrier of stars clearly showed their effectiveness, and the testers of the Kiev School tank school were instructed to select the optimal order for placing the new barrier. As a result, it was recommended to arrange asterisks in rows every four meters, and the distance along the front should have been one and a half meters for the front row and 2-2,5 m for the remaining rows. In such a case, having speeding up and moving through the first row, the tank could no longer continue high-speed movement and simply stuck between the rows of stars, in the process getting damage to the hull and, sometimes, to the internal units.

Anti-tank hedgehogs on the streets of Moscow. 1941

On the same tests and picked up the optimal size of a six-pointed asterisk. The height of the finished fence should be between one and a half meters. The reasons for this are as follows: the asterisk should be higher than the clearance of the tank, but at the same time its upper part should not rise beyond the upper cut of the lower front plate. In this case, for the first time tankers met with asterisks, seeing the small size of the obstacles and the absence of any attachment to the ground, they may want to simply move it aside. The driver starts moving forward, the asterisk gets under the lower frontal sheet, and from there it “creeps” under the bottom of the tank. In addition, in some cases, the asterisk may rotate under the front of the armored vehicle. Anyway, the tank that entered the asterisk is in a very uncomfortable position: the front end is suspended in the air. Moreover, the caterpillars that rose above the ground cannot provide proper adhesion to the surface, and the tank can no longer move out of the asterisk without assistance from the outside. An armored vehicle, designed to suppress enemy firing points, itself becomes a fairly easy target.

The ease of making Gorikker stars, combined with their effectiveness, influenced the further fate of the invention. In the shortest possible time, guidelines for the manufacture of barriers were distributed in all parts of the Red Army. For the characteristic appearance in the army, this barrier was called a hedgehog. It was under this name that Gorikker’s anti-asterisk entered history. The simplicity of production and low cost of raw materials made it possible in the shortest possible time to make tens of thousands of anti-tank hedgehogs and install them on a large part of the front. In addition, even the assembled hedgehog could be transported from place to place, which also improved the reputation of the new barrier product. In general, the new hedgehog fell in love with the Red Army. Much more he "liked" the German tank crews. The fact is that at first everything went exactly as Gorikker supposed - seeing an unfamiliar, but unfixed barrage, the tankers tried to move it and go further, which led to the suspension in a literal suspension. An unpleasant event, especially if there is a Soviet anti-tank gun somewhere nearby. One can hardly imagine a better target than a fixed tank raised above ground level. Finally, with a completely unfortunate set of circumstances, the hedgehog beamed through the lower front plate or bottom, went inside the tank and caused damage to the engine or transmission. Features of the placement of the transmission on the German tanks PzKpfw III and PzKpfw VI only increased the chances of the car to get such damage.

Residents of Stalingrad install anti-tank hedgehogs on a city street

True, the Germans quickly guessed that first you should make passes in the barriers, and then just walk along them. Here, to some extent, they were helped by the fact that the hedgehogs were not attached to the surface of the earth. A couple of tanks with the help of towing cables could quickly make a hole for the passage of troops. Red Army soldiers responded to this by laying anti-personnel mines next to hedgehogs, as well as, if possible, placing machine guns or anti-tank guns near the barrier. Thus, attempts to pull apart hedgehogs or tie them to a tank were severely punished with machine guns, and even artillery fire. Soon, another method appeared to make it difficult to make aisles: hedgehogs were tied together and tied to various objects on the ground. As a result, German tankers and sappers first had to solve a “puzzle” with cables and chains, and only after that did they clean the hedgehogs themselves. And do it all under the fire of the enemy.

However, an excellent idea, as often happens, had unsuccessful incarnations. So, often for reasons of economy or for other similar reasons, hedgehogs were made not from I-beams, but from other profiles. Naturally, the strength of such obstacles was less than necessary and sometimes a tank could simply crush the “wrong” hedgehog. Another problem with the Gorikker asterisks was the demands of the location - for it to effectively confront the tanks it needed a solid surface. Asphalt, which was strong enough to withstand the pressure of the tank on the hedgehog, was best suited. As for even more solid concrete, it was not recommended to put hedgehogs on it. The fact is that the friction on such a surface was insufficient and the tank could move the hedgehog, and not run into it. Finally, at some moments of the war, hedgehogs could not fulfill their duties for more pleasant reasons. For example, on the outskirts of Moscow, such barriers were installed in the fall of 41. But, fortunately, the Red Army did not allow the enemy to get close to the hedgehogs on the outskirts of the capital.

Anti-tank hedgehogs of the system of Major General M.L. Gorikker

Anti-tank hedgehogs of the system of Major General M.L. Gorikker played an important role in the Great Patriotic War. They helped relatively small forces to improve the capabilities of the army in deterring the enemy. It should be noted that the Gorikker invention was used not only by the Red Army. The Germans, retreating, also actively used a simple barrier structure of three rails and fasteners. On the approach to all the important points of the German defense, the Red Army had to see familiar angular objects. And the allies, having landed in Normandy, were also able to familiarize themselves with the Soviet means of blocking. There is an interesting opinion stating that the Germans themselves did not produce hedgehogs, but only sorted and stored the Soviet, which were useful by the end of the war. In any case, in the opinion of some historians, it is possible to explain a large number of hedgehogs in front of the German positions at that stage of the war when Germany experienced serious difficulties even with the production of weapons.

Currently, anti-urchin hedgehogs are almost completely out of use, although occasionally they can be seen next to military units or similar objects. Also anti-tank hedgehog, being one of the symbols of World War II, was actively used by sculptors in the creation of monuments. For example, a monument with hedgehogs on the Leningradskoe highway near Moscow marks the line on which German troops were stopped. Memorials similar to it can be found practically across all Europe, in places where there were fights.

Tank IS-2 overcomes concrete anti-hedgehogs

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  1. marauder
    marauder 9 May 2012 08: 25
    All ingenious, simple.
    1. father tudy-syudy
      father tudy-syudy 9 May 2012 11: 34
      Something I didn’t understand a bit about this topic either: why did the anti-tank barriers begin to be invented and made in a hurry on the eve or at the beginning of the war? What happened to the Soviet defense? We all prepared for the defense of the country or what? Yes, with these barriers the whole WESTERN BORDER was to be blocked! And here we are trying to rant about what amateur performances ... What really was?
      What did the great and unforgettable for centuries Comrade Stalin think? ...
      1. Kars
        Kars 9 May 2012 11: 39
        Quote: Father Tudy-syudy

        Would there be enough rails?
        One day, a user like you was reproaching me that an anti-tank ditch had not been dug along the entire border.
        Stationary barriers are effective only when they are covered by a sufficient amount of artillery and infantry. Also, for example, these hedgehogs are effective in delaying the offensive in areas whose relief contributes to this, and no more.

        The Maginot line, by the way, the Fritzes passed in two days. Positional defense is not the best option.
        1. father tudy-syudy
          father tudy-syudy 9 May 2012 12: 56
          and became on 24! a thousand tanks were enough? ...
          I, a user like you, will explain a little: do Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and Lithuania have the relief of the Mongolian steppes? Did the Wehrmacht have a very large selection for strikes? Wasn't the road network in these regions miserable? Or maybe we'll look at the maps of 1941 together? The Wehrmacht did not advance along swamps and dense forests, but along roads! Was it difficult to foresee the most genius-Stalin genius in human history? Or did Zhukov have no military education to consider the situation? Or were they all busy with something else, more interesting? .. bully
          In the Red Army there were problems with the quantity and quality of artillery for covering stationary barriers? For some reason, heavy howitzers for the destruction of fortifications (and what kind of fortifications are in their defense against the advancing enemy?) Did not forget to pull them to the border itself, but some hitch came out of the artillery for their defense .. all this is strange.
          So it was necessary to put them along ALL roads and tank directions! Marshes and numerous rivers did not need to be blocked at all!
          Positional defense-this is the BEST option for the Soviet Union was, but in the end there was NO! Who is now responsible for the most grandiose defeat in the history of mankind? Stalin? So he is on this site elevated almost to saints! yes Then who is in his place?
          1. Kars
            Kars 9 May 2012 13: 07
            Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
            and became on 24! a thousand tanks were enough? ...

            That is, instead of tanks, hedgehogs had to be done?
            Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
            Did the Wehrmacht have a very large selection for strikes?

            A huge number of directions, if they could bring the three-million-strong grouping to Leningrad and Moscow, and at the same time strike at three directions.
            Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
            Or maybe we'll look at the 1941 cards of the year together?

            Yes, it’s easy, only the Pinsk swamps are a special obstacle, and it was not for nothing that summer was chosen for the offensive.
            Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
            In the Red Army there were problems with the quantity and quality of artillery for covering stationary barriers?

            Any country will have problems with artillery to cover the border in 2500 km
            Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
            For some reason, heavy howitzers for the destruction of fortifications (and what kind of fortifications are in their defense against the advancing enemy?) Did not forget to pull them up to the border,

            Directly so to the most? And how many? Directly B-4 thousands were yes? And Sorry and in defense you need to have the means to defeat the enemy at the stage of deployment and accumulation.
            Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
            So it was necessary to put them along ALL roads and tank directions! Marshes and numerous rivers did not need to be blocked at all!

            Just like that, the whole border is rivers and swamps. Yes, and Sorry, the Germans knew how to force rivers - they trained at Sanaa and Maase.
            Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
            National defense is the BEST option for the USSR, but in the end there was NO!

            This is the most losing option, especially in conditions of poor motorization of the Red Army --- the enemy has the opportunity to accumulate multiple superiority in forces in the breakthrough areas, to break through the defense - here hedgehogs will not help and go behind the line of positional defense along the borders, cutting railways and highways , not allowing them to retreat quickly and forcing them to defend with a turned front.
            Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
            Who is now responsible for the most grandiose defeat in the history of mankind?

            Hitler and Berlin responded, and the French with the Maginot line surrendered in less than a month, with probably even better balance of power.
          2. core
            core 9 May 2012 20: 47
            grand defeat? weren’t Poland and France capitulated, fled, left their ladies to the Germans, and after the war these women were also tried (at least in France).
          3. smirnov
            smirnov 15 May 2012 21: 28
            Fresh impressions from reading something from Rezun ???
      2. El13
        El13 9 May 2012 12: 17
        Quote: Father Tudy-syudy
        We all prepared for the defense of the country or what?

        You weren’t getting ready for anything
      3. Civil
        Civil 10 May 2012 19: 39
        But father tudy-syudy,

        says go to the polish forum lol
    2. Antipin
      Antipin 10 May 2012 19: 10
      and not only brilliantly simple, but also effective good
  2. Reddragon
    Reddragon 9 May 2012 08: 35
    Everything is ingenious and simple. Everything simple is effective.
  3. djsa1
    djsa1 9 May 2012 09: 53
    I think they would be useful in modern conditions.
  4. Altergo
    Altergo 9 May 2012 10: 43
    I suspect that these hedgehogs are effective if anti-tank artillery impedes their quick dismantling.
  5. Chicot 1
    Chicot 1 9 May 2012 11: 02
    Everything ingenious is simple! .. With the Great Holiday of all of you! ..

    Respect to the author and "+" ...
    1. Gamdlislyam
      Gamdlislyam 9 May 2012 12: 37
      The article is useful, but it contains a number of inaccuracies and errors. For completeness, I suggest the article "Anti-tank hedgehogs" on the site of Yu. Veremeyev "ANATOMY OF THE ARMY"
  6. SectoR
    SectoR 9 May 2012 11: 28
    Currently, anti-tank hedgehogs are almost completely obsolete, although occasionally they can be seen next to military units or similar objects.
    In our part, the checkpoints were constantly blocked by them, with alarms or exercises lol
    1. Glenn witcher
      9 May 2012 14: 46
      Yeah, the current military especially love monstrous bandura of two or three hedgehogs welded to a single stick. It looks harsh, and the benefits - almost zero.
  7. loc.bejenari
    loc.bejenari 9 May 2012 17: 05
    in addition to large hedgehogs near Kiev, ours used small mini hedgehogs with pointed ends made of reinforcement against wheeled vehicles
    back in 90 such people were lying around in the woods - then they smashed them into scrap metal
  8. Dmitry.V
    Dmitry.V 9 May 2012 19: 36
    Holy simplicity smile
  9. MPak
    MPak 9 May 2012 22: 12
    The monument with hedgehogs on the Leningradskoye Shosse means one of the lines of defense of Moscow.
    The line at which the German troops were stopped is marked by another monument - "Monument" at the exit from Zelenograd.

    offended resident of Zelenograd
  10. almost demobil
    almost demobil 10 May 2012 03: 59
    More than once I saw at sea places of the coast, reinforced with concrete structures as in the last photo, apparently to strengthen the coast from erosion. I wonder if they found a second life for them, or are they made by a specialist for this purpose?
  11. viruskvartirus
    viruskvartirus 10 May 2012 10: 50
    The invention is very old, we can say modified Garlic - (iron flyers, scribble or swept scribbles, tribol, trivols) - a military fence. Consists of several connected star-shaped sharp steel pins directed in different directions. If thrown to the ground, then one spike will be directed upwards, and the rest will constitute a support. Basically, the ends of the pins corresponded to the vertices of a regular tetrahedron. A barrage of scattered garlic was effective against cavalry, and was also used against infantry, elephants, and camels.
    If combined with anti-tank mines and artillery ... a very unpleasant thing that the Germans confirmed by taking them into service ... plus such barriers can be supplemented with high-explosive flamethrowers FOG-2 ...
    1. Voodoo
      Voodoo 10 May 2012 12: 07
      An interesting example. It turns out the design is not new? But for tanks, it still turned out effectively. It is noteworthy that the hedgehogs did not thoughtlessly, but from the calculation of the geometry of the tanks, their movement ...
  12. schta
    schta 10 May 2012 13: 41
    The problem with concrete bumps is extremely low mobility. Everything is simple with "Hedgehogs".

    By the way, I want to clarify one point. Anti-ship "hedgehogs" (I don't remember what they are called) were also used by our ancestors. A log, bound on one side, was flooded to a depth of about a meter from the surface of the water. "Active element" towards the enemy. (usually towards the river mouth along the fairway). Enemy ships raided such surprises.
  13. viruskvartirus
    viruskvartirus 10 May 2012 14: 26
    The history of such barriers began a long time ago, there is a story according to which they came to Macedon and offered to buy a military machine ... the essence was a simple board and a metal pin ... Macedon thought and ordered them executed ...
  14. taseka
    taseka 10 May 2012 18: 53
    Even easier, but the "labor" is impressive!
  15. Ataturk
    Ataturk 15 May 2012 21: 32
    So I look and think how much resources this war takes, for how many years people are degrading from civilization and progress. Instead of uniting everyone, think about the future and what the bastards are doing. They kill, spoil the earth.
    God gave us such a beautiful planet that we live and enjoy life, and what people do. Sometimes I think we do not deserve to live in this life. People have shown that they are the worst of all. Alas(((((((
  16. Head Physician
    Head Physician 4 November 2017 19: 41
    Always interested in the effectiveness of this thing